FTC Approves Tornier and Wright Medical Merger

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a final order that conditionally approves the merger between Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Tornier N.V. and Memphis, Tennessee-based Wright

Medical Group, Inc. Reuters reports that the all-stock transaction is valued at about $3.3 billion. Plans for the merger were first announced in October 2014, and approved by the shareholders of both companies in June 2015, subject to receipt of clearance by the FTC. Progress on the transaction was suspended when the FTC expressed concerns that the merger would reduce competition for total ankle replacements and total silicone rubber (silastic) toe replacements in the U.S. market.

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition enforces U.S. antitrust laws and works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices. On occasion, the Bureau urges the Commission to take law enforcement action. In this case, the FTC’s concerns were the final obstacle to the proposed merger. The recent final order, which follows a mandatory public comment period, settles the FTC’s allegations of anticompetitive behavior.

The order calls for Tornier to sell a portion of its U.S. assets and IP rights to Integra Lifesciences Corporation (NASDAQ: IART), a competitor in the U.S. orthopedics space, which is based in Plainsboro, New Jersey. The newly combined company will be required to provide Integra with ankle and toe replacement products for up to three years. Through this arrangement, the FTC seeks to foster competition in the affected market.

In addition to its upper and lower extremity portfolio, the merged companies will maintain a presence in the growing biologics market. Wright Medical recently obtained FDA approval on the Augment bone graft material (left), which is as an alternative to autograft in a variety of arthrodesis procedures. Tornier has developed a line of biologics that includes its BioFiber line of absorbable scaffolds and its Conexa reconstructive tissue matrix, both of which are used for soft tissue repair.

The U.S. market for cell-based therapies for musculoskeletal injuries (orthobiologics) is valued at over $1.5 billion and is expected to grow significantly in 2016. Other market participants in the orthobiologics space include Dublin, Ireland-based Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), San Diego, California-based NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA), Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Stryker (NYSE: SYK), and Johnson and Johnson’s West Chester, Pennsylvania-based DePuy Synthes (NYSE: JNJ). Orthobiologics are part of the growing field of regenerative medicine, which includes bioprinting and stem-cell based therapies, and is projected to be worth $6.5 billion in the U.S. by 2019. Bioprinting, itself, has received recent investment and growth.

Following the merger, the resulting company will be renamed Wright Medical Group, N.V. and will be incorporated and headquartered in the Netherlands.